In a serious over reaction, the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Charles Grassley (R-I) sent out letters to 23 medical schools who failed to fill out a survey by the American Medical Students Association.
The survey conducted by AMSA, is used to grade universities based on the conflict of interest policies and published as a score card. The score based on PharmFree criteria designated by AMSA and has nothing to do with science or patient care, but rather are you “pure” in their eyes.
Instead of the Senator asking for reasons why the survey was not filled out (let me think, students sending a survey? That has to fall on some ones desk and to the bottom of the priority list).
He is asking for the schools that did not respond for conflict of interest policies along with records of all their grants.
· A copy of your institution's policy on employee conflict of interest.
· Please provide any notifications and/or communications to the NIH regarding conflicts of interest and research by professors at your institution. This request covers the period of January 1, 2004 through the present.
· Please provide a total dollar figure for all NIH monies and/or other federal monies annually received by your institution. This request covers the period of 2004 through 2008.
· Please provide a list of all NIH grants and/ or other federal grants received by your institution. This request covers the period of 2004 through 2008. For each grant please provide the following:
a. Primary Investigator;
b. Grant Title;
c. Grant number;
d. Brief description; and
e. Amount of Award.
They have until July 15th to send in all this information.
The following are the schools that the senator is targeting with letters:
· The Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine,
· Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine,
· Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine,
· Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine,
· Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine,
· Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine,
· Tulane University School of Medicine,
· University of Florida College of Medicine,
· University of Nevada School of Medicine,
· Albany Medical College,
· Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine,
· Dartmouth Medical School, Howard University College of Medicine,
· Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine,
· Louisiana State University School of Medicine - New Orleans,
· Meharry Medical College,
· Morehouse School of Medicine,
· New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of the New York Institute of Technology,
· Ponce School of Medicine,
· San Juan Bautista School Of Medicine,
· University at Buffalo School of Medicine,
· University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey - New Jersey Medical School,
· University of South Carolina School of Medicine
The question should be asked, what constitutes a medical schools responsibility?
Is it the responsibility to answer a student survey – especially a student group like
Is this the proper use of power to send out press releases that you have opened an investigation based on not answering a student’s survey?
Congress does have the ability to ask questions, and the first question may have been to ask why the survey was not filled out.
There comes a point when we see abuses of power, and these letters come very close to crossing that line.
Universities need to remember “Senator Grassley is Watching”